Day 2, US Champs, Quantico
A miserable day. I was not sharp. I tried to read features along the way, and had mixed results with maintaining concentration. I got tired and made big mistakes.
On the 1st control, I got pulled aside when I saw Mike at a control, even though I thought to myself, that's weird that they had the same control for Green X and Green Y. Checked out another marker before I finally decided on a bailout plan (head to the stream) and found my marker along the way.
Very long leg to 3. My plan was to cross the stream, north to the trail, cross one hill and stream, find the road/ride and into the control. I did really well checking off features to the first stream and up the hill towards the trail. But I had no plan of what to do if I didn't see the trail. I didn't even have a picture in my head of what it would look like beyond the trail. It's as if my mind switched off at "trail". So, of course I didn't see the trail and I blindly kept heading north hoping I'd find it. I finally admitted I didn't know where I was when I hit a couple of stream junctions. Thought I could be in one of two places and when I climbed the hill and saw the power line, that was a surprise. But at least I knew where I was. Should be easy to run along the power line, then the road, then the ride, right into the marker. Right? Not. Had to attack off the road/ride a few times before I found the marker. Did I mention I was getting tired?
5 to 6 was a short leg and I thought I would be smart to avoid the dark green and just head a bit east of the line. But somehow I got all confused with my direction. I would line up my compass and map, and start off. But when I would glance down again, everything was off. I also had no sense of distance on this leg. And the "stream bed" and "ditches" all looked alike. But at least I admitted that I needed to relocate somewhere safe, so I headed up to the trail. Found a trail bend near a reentrant, and headed into the woods. But of course, it turned out to be another parallel error. Stopped, went back up and tried again to attack from the trail. Lost a huge amount of time here.
When I saw the long leg to 8, I panicked at first. But then I was determined to execute it cleanly, and avoid the errors I made on 3. So I chose the stream bed as the safest route choice, and that worked. I spiked this control!
But by now I was really tired and brain dead. For each of the next two controls, I checked out several other nearby markers, but at least I checked the codes and didn't MP.
Overall, I'm extremely frustrated and disappointed with my performance (or lack thereof) this weekend. No discipline to follow the plan, not enough fitness for two long days, and basic errors in map reading, distance judgement and rough compass. Nothing went right in the woods, despite all my efforts to prepare beforehand. Need to think through a better way to prepare and practice. And execute the plan!
Of course,the social aspect of the event was great. Also, loved the open woods and pretty leaves. Temps were a bit cold for standing around, but felt great in the woods. I enjoyed the course design on day 2. Overall, I'm glad we went to this event.